A GROUP that supports and champions refugees in Powys were able to meet in person for the first time in 15 months earlier this month. 

Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees (HBTSR) gathered to celebrate Refugee Week and the many people who have contributed to the British way of life who arrived in the country as refugees or asylum seekers or whose families were immigrants.

These people famously include Lew Grade, Freddie Mercury, David Milliband, Judith Kerr and Albert Einstein, but all people seeking refugee bring much more than simple belongings to their new countries.

The theme of Refugee Week 2021, ‘We Cannot Walk Alone’, was an invitation to extend a hand to someone new. Refugee Week also has links with the Jo Cox Foundation Great Get Together who suggested that a socially distanced walk together would be a safe way to create new connections and reflect on the journeys that refugees face. With this in mind, David Raikes and wife Carla Rapoport suggested the use of their gardens at Treberfydd House, in Llangasty Tal-y-llyn, near Brecon, as a base for HBTSR to host a bring your own picnic and to share a walk to Llangorse Lake on June 30.

Adil Gatrad, a long-term supporter of HBTSR and himself a refugee, made the necessary preparations and supporters were joined by a small group of people seeking sanctuary in Newport.

Refugee support worker at the Sanctuary Project in Newport, Sarah Croft, drove up with the group and explained how helpful the trip was. “We really looked forward to being somewhere different among friends, old and new, and to being in the countryside,” she said.

“Trips like these bring great benefit for people's mental health and are something good to look back on during the dark days of waiting upon Home Office decisions or coping with bad news from home countries.”

HBTSR secretary Ailsa Dunn said: “The walk was both educational and fun. We learnt about the importance of Oak trees in the British landscape, in the environment and building.

“We saw ‘Albert's Tree’, a rare specimen, that was stunted over 50 years ago by David's horse Albert taking a large bite from the growing tip, and we visited Llangasty church, built in its present form by David's great, great grandfather.

“Then we strolled across the fields to the bird hide although most sensible birds had disappeared upon hearing a cheery socially distanced group making its way there.”

It was a day of brilliant sunshine, a lovely way to reconnect with friends and to share time together. The group would like to thank David, Carla, Gez, Adil and all who attended for making this possible.

If you want to learn more about HBTSR, visit the website at https://hbtsr.cityofsanctuary.org/ or email hbts4refugees@gmail.com.